by Rabbi Ari Shvat (Chwat)
Rav Ari (Chwat) Shvat is director of Rav Kook’s archives in Beit HaRav, and is considered a world authority on his writings and philosophy. He served for several decades among the heads of the Israeli and overseas one-year seminary programs for young women at the Michlelet Orot Israel College and other programs for higher education. Raised in Riverdale, New York, he did the Hesder Program at the Ohr Etzion and Kiryat Arba yeshivot, where he received smicha and served as a sergeant in Tzahal. Rav Ari is author of 5 books on Jewish Studies and has published over 100 ideological and halachic articles in leading Torah journals dealing with Tanach, religious Zionism and the writings of Rav Kook. He holds a B.A. in Tanach and an M.A. in Jewish History and Talmud. Rav Ari is currently a senior lecturer at Michlelet Orot Israel College, Midreshet HaRova, Midreshet Lindenbaum, Sha’alvim For Women, Midreshet Moriah, Adult Education for Women in Petach Tikva, Rechavya, and Kochav HaShachar, and the Israeli Army Air Force. He also replies regularly to halachic questions in English on the Yeshivat Beit El website. He lives in Kochav HaShachar with his wife Tzvia and they have seven children.
Delaying Aliya for Studies and Career
My wife and I are talking about the future, in terms of living in Eretz Yisrael and graduate school. My wife wants to pursue a Phd in Psychology beginning next year. However, it is a 6 year program, which could complicate our plans for aliya, especially as anything unexpected can happen in that time frame. Do you think it’s a good idea to wait it out and let her finish the program, or do you think this would tie us further down to chutz l’aretz? Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Kol tuv, A.
Shalom A, Mazal Tov to you and your new wife! I’m glad to hear that you haven’t “assimilated” too much into the galut mentality and that BH, aliya is still on your agenda.
Unfortunately, the most common difficulty I found among tens, if not hundreds, of friends and students who planned aliya and in the end, didn’t make it, is that they pushed it off, got used to the lifestyle and standard of living there, and in the end, sold their dreams for a nice, hot “lentil soup”. If you want to be realistic, the chances of making aliya in another 6 years, are unfortunately significantly lower than you think. Just imagine practically where you will be at that time. You”ll already be at the height of your career, with hard-earned connections, promotions, and potential for advancement. You will BH already have several children in educational frameworks with friends, activities, etc. You”ll probably own a house and have to look to sell it (and most won’t want to lose money, and will wait that much longer to get a good price…). You will probably be established and comfortable in the community, have your she’urim, your rav and your chevruta… You and your wife will have strong social ties, and the longer you wait, the more friends you will have, and the stronger the ties will be with them. The more you wait, the older your parents and/or grandparents will be, and then you may feel guilty leaving them. The more you wait, the more relatives you will have to leave. It’s a “one-way street” going inthe wrong direction, where every month that you wait is going to make leaving that much more difficult.
It basically boils down to the question, how important aliya is to you. That, only you can answer. All I can help you with, is that if Torah and Judaism is important to you, “Living in Eretz Yisrael is equated with the rest of the mitzvot combined!” (Tosefta, Av.Z. 5, 2), and “Whomever lives in chutz laAretz is as if he worships idols (=gold and silver, rather than idealistic priorities) (Ktuvot 110b-111a).
You are definitely at a crossroad in life, and now is the time to decide clearly, what your priorities really are: money, comfort and convenience, or Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Torat Yisrael! I am confident that you will make a wise decision.
If you are interested in seeing my article from Tchumin on the halachic sources regarding aliya and career, and how much one must be willing to lower their standard of living, in order to make aliya, see the following English edition of that article at the link: https://www.yeshiva.co/midrash/20192 and then 20193, and 20194
Just remember, the future of Am Yisrael and Torat Yisrael are in Eretz Yisrael, and we are fortunate enough to live in the historic generation of kibbutz galuyot (the gathering of the exiles). All of your ancestors dreamed and would have given anything to be able to make aliya as part of the ge’ula process. You have that opportunity- and you’ll probably regret if you pass it up. Contrarily, if you do have the guts to make aliya, you will go down in history as “the” great-grandfather who saved your entire family tree forever, by moving/returning it to its eternal and holy destination.
With Love of Israel,
Rav Ari Shvat